KANTOR, JUDAH LEIB (1849–1915), founder of the first Hebrew daily newspaper. Born in Vilna, he became a devotee of the Haskalah in his youth, graduated from the Government Rabbinical Seminary in Zhitomir, and also studied medicine in Berlin. After editing *Ha-Ẓefirah in Berlin (1874–75) and
At first Ha-Yom was successful, but competition with the established papers, *Ha-Meliẓ and Ha-Ẓefirah, which also became dailies under its influence, led to its demise. The failure of Kantor's literary projects was partly caused by his negative attitude to the Ḥibbat Zion movement, which alienated the only circles who regarded Hebrew and Hebrew literature as a vital national need. From 1888 to 1890 Kantor was one of the editors of Ha-Meliẓ; he also edited the Yiddish weekly, Dos Yidishe Folksblat.
Kantor was a representative of the last generation of maskilim in Hebrew literature who believed that Haskalah held the cure for all Jewry's ills and were unable to accept the nationalist and Zionist movements. In his last years he served as an official rabbi in Libau (1890–1904), Vilna (1905–08), and Riga (1909–15).
Torch, in: Moznayim, 20 (1945), 91–99, 219–26, includes bibliography; N. Sokolow, Ishim (1958), 153–91; Waxman, Literature, 4 (19602), 441f., 448f., 608.